Who are we?

The International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany (IWGP) is the informal and decentral collective of all researchers working in the wide field of archaeobotany.

Foundation of the Work Group

The founding idea of today’s IWGP dates back to the mid-20th century. In 1966, during the 7th International Congress of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, pioneering researchers Maria Hopf, Klaus-Dieter Jäger, Maria Follieri, Emanuel Opravil, Zdeněk Tempír, Árpád Patay, and Jane Renfrew – in correspondence with Fatih Khafizovich Bakhteev, Moisej Markovič Jakubziner, and Willem van Zeist –  launched the idea of creating an international group dedicated to the research of human-plant interactions.

In 1968, Zdeněk Tempír organized a scientific conference at Castle Kačina near Prague (at the time Czechoslovakia, today Czech Republic). This meeting with only twelve participants became the founding event of the “Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Paläo-Ethnobotanik (IAP)“. With its third conference in Groningen, the IAP changed its official name into “International Work Group of Palaeoethnobotany (IWGP)”.

Our Goals

Just as in its foundation, the Work Group’s principal goal today is still the international exchange between researchers in palaeoethnobotany/archaeobotany (including archaeopalynology) who investigate past interactions of humans and plants.

Among the earliest milestones of this exchange were Jürgen Schultze-Motel’s international literature indices, which were later taken over by Helmut Kroll (see also here), and finally resulted in the online database ArchBotLit.

Another core achievement was 1991’s publication “Progress in Old World Palaeoethnobotany. A retrospective view on the occasion of 20 years of the International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany“, edited by Willem van Zeist, Krystyna Wasylikowa, and Karl-Ernst Behre, and published by A. A. Balkema.

In 2022, during the 19th conference, Jaromír Beneš, Adéla Pokorná, Michaela Ptáková, and Marcela Starcová presented their historical overview “Archaeobotany in Czechia and Beyond“, which also addresses the developments before and during the foundation of the IWGP.

How is the IWGP organised?

The IWGP knows no registered members and no president (see below), and is therefore informal and voluntary in its nature. The only institutionalised role within the IWGP is that of a Committee Member.

If your research aims at the analysis and interpretation of archaeobotanical remains in order to provide information on the interactions of human populations and plants, please feel welcome as part of the IWGP, and participate in our Conferences!

Unter den Symposiumsteilnehmern bestand volle Einstimmigkeit, die gegenseitigen Kontakte sowie Zusammenkünfte in der durchgeführten Form als Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Paläoethnobotanik IAP (International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany) weiter zu pflegen. Diese lose Arbeitsgemeinschaft kennt keine eingetragenen Mitglieder und keinen Präsidenten; sie soll vorerst keiner anderen Organisation angeschlossen werden. Ihre Zusammenkünfte und deren Themen sollen je nach Bedarf von einem Treffen zum nächsten vereinbart werden und nach Möglichkeit von Land zu Land wechseln. Das gastgebende Land stellt jeweils den Sekretär zur Führung der notwendigen Geschäfte.”

There was full unanimity among the symposium participants to continue mutual contacts as well as meetings in the form carried out as the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Paläoethnobotanik “IAP” (International Work Group for Palaeoethnobotany). This loose working group has no registered members and no president; it is not to be affiliated with any other organisation for the time being. Its meetings and their topics are to be arranged from one meeting to the next as needed and, if possible, to change from country to country. The host country shall provide the secretary to conduct the necessary business.


[translated with DeepL]

(excerpt from the first conference report from 1968, signed by the founding committee members Karl-Ernst Behre, Maria Hopf, and Willem Van Zeist)

Meet the Crowd!

Background image: Charred cultivated plant remains from Fuente Álamo (prov. Almería, Spain), Bronze Age El Argar culture © Hans-Peter Stika